Paisley patterns are characterized by a twisted teardrop motif that spans the globe in design and meaning. In America, it is associated with various historical events like cowboys wearing bandanas in the Wild West and the psychedelic prints of the 60s, but the roots of the design are actually Persian. In Iran it's known as boteh, where it might have represented the cypress tree - a Zoroastrian symbol of life and eternity. The name "paisley", however, comes from a town in central Scotland known for textiles.
With all these varying roots, this pattern is seen in all types of rug design. It is used more widely in transitional and contemporary designs, though. When the pattern scale is small, the density of the teardrops adds a lot of texture to any space. On larger pattern scales, a few key pieces are visible, but they take up the majority of the rug’s area. These usually still have very intricate detail in the teardrop but the background - usually a solid color - is more prominent and can be used to compliment an accenting color in any room.